Increased Intake of Foods with High Nutrient Density Can Help to Break the Intergenerational Cycle of Malnutrition and Obesity

Nutrients. 2015 Jul 21;7(7):6016-37. doi: 10.3390/nu7075266.


A workshop held at the University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands, aimed at discussing the nutritional situation of the population in general and the role diet plays during critical windows in the life course, during which the body is programmed for the development of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are increasingly prevalent as our society ages, and nutrition is well known to play an important role in determining the risk and the time of onset of many common NCDs. Even in affluent countries, people have difficulties to achieve adequate intakes for a range of nutrients: Economic constraints as well as modern lifestyles lead people to consume diets with a positive energy balance, but low in micronutrients, resulting in increasing prevalence of obesity and suboptimal nutritional status. Information about nutrient density, which refers to the content of micronutrients relative to energy in food or diets, can help identify foods that have a low calorie to nutrient ratio. It thus allows the consumption of diets that cover nutritional needs without increasing the risk of becoming obese. Given the impact a nutrient dense, low energy diet can have on health, researchers, food industry and governments jointly should develop options for affordable, appealing nutrient-rich food products, which, in combination with physical activity, allow for optimal health throughout the life-course.

Keywords: PUFA; life cycle; non-communicable diseases; nutrient density; obesity; vitamin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*